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I was intrigued to read a press release this week from the Charles River Watershed Association and the Conservation Law Foundation about stormwater protection for the Charles River. Excerpt:

[CRWA and CLF] have reached a proposed settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) regarding the Massachusetts municipal stormwater permit. The two organizations intervened in the permit appeal process to ensure that the permit’s pollution reduction requirements were in line with current science. The groups fought to require nature-based solutions for stormwater management in new and redevelopment projects, and push for stronger protections to defend waterways from polluted runoff that causes toxic algae blooms. The proposed settlement was published in the Federal Register today, and now undergoes a 30 day public comment period.

The proposed settlement represents the results of mediation supervised by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Mediation Program.

An earlier article (in April) about this issue was published by The Foley Hoag law firm, noting:

It’s clear that EPA understands that it has no good choices here, that additional stormwater controls are much more expensive than the advocates have generally acknowledged, and that there is significant opposition, not just from private real estate interests, but also from municipalities.

All complicated, I know, but I think that Emily Norton and her CRWA crew (and CLF) deserve credit for keeping the pressure on in this arena. When we (MWRA, City of Newton, and other municipalities) carried out sewer system upgrades during the 1980s and 1990s, there was a dramatic reduction in pollution of the river; but the potential for increased elements of chemical and bacteria pollution from stormwater runoff remained. While there is a cost involved, it’s generally advisable to keep things out of the river than to let them in. New and redevelopment projects are excellent targets of opportunity in this regard.

All this made me think about Crystal Lake. I know the City and the Crystal Lake Conservancy have devoted efforts to protect it from stormwater pollution, but it feels like the lake has toxic algae blooms more often and earlier in the summer than in prior years. Is there anyone reading this who could give an update on progress, current steps, and hopes? While I’d love a new bathhouse at Crystal Lake, I’d love even more for the water to be swimmable throughout the summer for years to come.

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